'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
WHIPPERSNAPPERS ADDICTED TO THE INTERNET
A recent news headline exclaimed, “People deprived of the Internet feel ‘upset and lonely’ and find going offline as hard as quitting smoking or drinking.”
I read this particular news story, not surprisingly, on the Internet. I suppose it was originally printed on real paper somewhere in the world, so that it could be dutifully tossed into the bushes rather than onto the front porch—as my newspaper delivery guy prefers—but I don’t think the circulation area is anywhere around here.
It seems a consumer research group asked 1,000 young people to go for 24 hours without using Internet-based devices, such as computers, iPads, smart phones, and the Magic 8 Ball. About half of the participants expressed feelings of anxiety and loneliness without access to the Web—and this was after 20 minutes. After six hours, all 1,000 participants were curled up in the fetal position on the floor blurting out Facebook updates to no one in particular while their thumbs were uncontrollably and furiously typing phantom text messages. (OK, it wasn’t quite that extreme, but many of the participants said the withdrawal symptoms were just as severe as giving up smoking, alcohol, or their daily $9 double mocha latte at Starbucks.)
At first, I hesitated to write about this news report, since I know that many of the people who read this column do not own computers and have no interest in going online. (Or as they would put it, “Who really needs that newfangled In-ter-nettie thing, anyway?”)
I know this to be true because I receive a fair number of letters from readers of this column. No, I didn’t say emails (although I get some of those); I said letters, as in written by hand on a real sheet of paper, then folded and put into an envelope with an actual postage stamp on it. Yes, you remember letters, right? Whenever they show up in our mailbox, my kids look at the letters with awe and wonder, as if they are in the presence of rare ancient antiquities, such as the catacombs of Rome. (And if recent news reports are accurate, the U.S. Postal Service is fast becoming just like the catacombs of Rome, except with less signs of life.)
Based on the feedback I have received over the years, I surmise that the average reader of this column thinks Harry Truman is no FDR, Elvis is a little too risque, and the Packard is a fine automobile. I’m not trying to imply my readers are elderly, but let’s just say I’m confident the folks who read this column have very few pierced eyebrows or tattoos on their breasts.
I was a little nervous writing a column about Internet addiction in light of the fact many readers have no experience with computers. But then I said to myself, “Wait a minute, my readers are brilliant people, and they demonstrate it each week by reading this column. They’re smart enough to understand this topic, even if they don’t use computers themselves.”
(Besides, by the time it dawned on me that many of the readers don’t have computers, I was already halfway thru the column, and I didn’t have time to start over with a new topic because I wasted too much time surfing the Internet and posting meaningless stuff on Facebook.)
So the bottom line is: young whippersnappers are obsessed with their high-tech gizmos, and they get fidgety and cranky when they’re separated from their electronic toys. In other words, young people today are soft and weak.
Please mail a hand-written letter to me if you agree.
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